See you when I see you, Louisville

“It was one of those mornings where you beat your alarm to the punch. He cursed himself as he rolled out of bed, wishing that he could will himself to sleep for a few more hours. It wasn’t exhaustion that he was hoping to avoid, it was the reality of what he was about to do. Scuffling his feet into the bathroom, he stared at himself through sleep-laden eyes while he willed himself to wake up and face the day. ‘You know this is what we need,’ he thought to himself as he squinted from the burn of his fresh contacts, ‘this is what we have needed for so long.’

The house looked so young, so bare and story-less. Without the pile of laundry by the stairs, last night’s glass of water by the futon, and the medusa’s head of N64 wires the rooms looked like blank canvas waiting to be used. He shrugged these thoughts out of his head and finished up the work that had to be done. Surprising himself by how quickly everything went, he hurried through the house to check that he wasn’t leaving anything behind that wasn’t meant to be left. He ferried the last of his stuff out to the car, raided the fridge one final time, and backed out of the front door with his Impellizeri’s half-baked pizza in tow.

‘This is it,’ he said to the material things that represented his life, now all packed and stuffed into his car like a real life Tetris puzzle. He cruised out of the driveway for one last time and exhaled, but whether it was out of relief, nervousness, or just the hopes that it’d make him go faster he couldn’t tell you. He just had one final stop.

One doesn’t leave a city without one’s favorite donut. He slid into the curbside parking and thanked whatever white-clothed deity in the clouds that it wasn’t crowded. He wanted to make this quick. ‘I’ll have three bacon donuts and two bear-claws, please,’ he said to the same lady who had taken his order last week. Scanning the room to see if there were any obvious regulars he could compare himself to, he decided that once a week wasn’t nearly enough to qualify so let the, ‘Guess this makes me a regular now, huh?’ quip fall to the wayside. He also knew that, try as he might, there was no way they would believe that these were for his family. But without that all he was prepared for was a smile and a few singles for the girl when she came back. As he hurried out through the big glass doors being held by the kind old man in the red ball cap he realized that that perfect stranger of a donut girl would be the last person he talked to in Louisville.

Pulling out of the spot, he debated with himself whether to take the long way to see campus and Bardstown Road one last time or just make full steam ahead to the Waterson. He opted for full steam ahead.

The tears came as he looped off the Preston Highway to merge onto 264. This entire time he had been the one who was consoling the others. His friends and family that were sad to see him go, worried about his safety, and who couldn’t really understand what it was he was doing. He had been the one that said everything would be fine. But everyone was so busy with their own emotions they had never realized to ask him about his. He couldn’t blame them, the last thing they needed to hear was that he was nervous and scared, too. So he cried.

He cried for all of the people who he was leaving in Louisville. He cried for leaving the city that had been home for the past 5 years; the city that had given him so much. He had loved and lost and loved again in this city, experienced some of his highest highs, and found people who would be with him for the rest of his life. And he cried because, no matter how much he loved his friends and this city, this was something that he had to do. For him.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

I have only been gone from Louisville for a single day and I already miss it terribly. I wrote this post not because I wanted to make anyone feel bad or to make you worry more but because I wanted you to know what I was going through as I left. (I have also always wanted to write a post like this and finally gathered the balls to do it). On the surface, I was happy-go-lucky and worry-free about leaving Louisville and embarking on this one-way European adventure. But I am also nervous and scared and sad.

Now this isn’t the kind of nervousness you get when you think there is a killer in your shower but the kind you get when you go on that first date with the beautiful girl who you want nothing more than to make smile. The nervousness that comes from recognizing that something is good, wanting it, and not wanting to bungle it all to hell. Nerves on game-day don’t mean that you aren’t prepared or supposed to be there (unless you’re the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl! BA BOOM BOOOM) but that you are a damn human being.

When I say I am scared I am not talking about being scared over my physical safety, for while I recognize the risks that I am taking on with these choices I also thoroughly believed I am equipped to face them. I have put a lot of myself into this trip and whenever you find yourself investing so much time and effort and love into something the greater your fear of losing it. But, as in all other things, I have a choice on whether I want to let that fear control me and I am not going to let it do that. I recognize it is there and I want to let you all know that it is there, but by no means is it going to stop me from pursuing this dream.

And I am sad. Because I have left an incredible life behind in Louisville and the States. The friends, family, and loved ones that I found myself surrounded by on a daily basis was nothing short of incredible. I was young and happy in an incredible city that even now I wish I had spent more time exploring. Sure, the job was a dark spot, but that would have changed even if I wasn’t going to Europe. What I am saying is that even though I am insanely, uncontrollably excited for my trip I am also going to miss you all terribly. You are my people and no amount of time or distance is going to ever change that.

PLEASE do not think that I am having second doubts or want to be talked out of this decision. If that is what you have gotten from the last few paragraphs than you truly do not understand who I am. But it is important for me to be as transparent as possible with all of you (and myself) and so that is why I have written this post. It was a way for me to let you all know that I DO recognize the intensity of this trip and the risks and that just because I am jumping out of my skin to get to Europe doesn’t mean it was easy to leave any of you.

I want you all to smile knowing that I am about to go do something that I want more than anything and then chuckle at the idea of me digging holes to poop in. Because that is what this adventure is about; finding the laughter and beauty in this world. I will do everything I can do do that for you and I hope that you will do that for me.

See you when I see you, Louisville. You will always be special to me.

Ben

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Advocacy2Gether Seminar 2014

Last week I had the honor to participate in the Advocacy2Gether Seminar program in Indianapolis. The seminar was part of the Partnership2Gether branch of The Jewish Agency for Israel. This would be my second experience through Partnership2Gether, the first of which was my Alternative Spring Break trip in March 2013.

About Partnership2Gether

The Partnership2Gether program is a part of The Jewish Agency for Israel whose goal is to connect international Jewish communities directly with communities in Israel. The idea is to create dialogue on issues, challenges, and successes within our respective communities. Once this dialogue is established, communities can then pool their resources, experience, and strengths to act and generate change.

Partnership believes that by establishing links at community level the connections are stronger, dialogue more meaningful, and action more direct. With over 550 communities connected through 45 individual partnerships, Partnership2Gether involves some 300,000 people annually to promote change in local and international Jewish communities. Go us, right?!

About the Central Consortium and Western Galilee Partnership

The partnership that I have been involved in is the one between the Central Consortium of the US and the Western Galilee (PLUS our incredible friends in Budapest, Hungary!!).

In the US, the Central Consortium consists of Louisville, Austin, San Antonio, Omaha, Des Moines, South Bend, N.W. Indiana, Indianapolis, Toledo, Youngstown, Canton, and Dayton.

                

In Israel, the Western Galilee region consists of several communities. Rosh HaNikra, Nahariya, and Acco are some of the communities that I have had and continue to have direct ties with.

I am always fascinated by these maps because when you look at the geographic size of the two regions and then the number of communities that are included you begin to get a feel for the diversity of the Western Galilee. For me, this is a crucial aspect to our partnership because it allows us to look at our Jewish identities and the issues our communities face in a context that is not solely Jewish.

The programs that the Central Consortium and Western Galilee offer are numerous and cover four main objectives; Education, Arts & Community, Medical, and Resource Development. Each of these objectives have their own programs and events, but my experience with the Partnership has been through the Education programs of Alternative Spring Break and Advocacy2Gether (which was the second stage of a TriTeam prgram). While I could go on and on about the programs that the Partnership offers, I want to focus on the Advocacy2Gether program in this post. For my Alternative Spring Break experience, please see my post from last year!

Advocacy2Gether Seminar

Wow, where do I start?! The seminar consisted of delegates from Israel, Hungary, and the United States. Most of the delegates started their experience on that first weekend of May but I was unable to take a full week off of work so I joined on Tuesday evening after work.

As some of you may know, one of my best friends from the ASB experience, Idan, would be at this seminar. In fact, I was going to be spending the week crashing on the couch in his and Hilal’s hotel room. I got in very late on Tuesday night but as soon as I opened that door all I heard was, “BEEEEEEEENNNNNNN!” coming from the other room. I threw my bags down and embraced my best friend. We were both so excited we could hardly speak. I am sure that anyone who didn’t already know us would have thought we had grown up together and even I find it hard to believe we could be so close after having spent one week together over a year ago. But the world and people work in strange ways, and this friendship is just one of many things that I owe to the Partnership, ASB, and Advocacy2Gether.

The seminar was a fairly compact one as far as international guests go. The three Israelis were two men Idan and Hillal, who is Druze, and one woman, Avital. The Hungarians were five women; Noemi, who I had met on my ASB, was joined with Judit, Petra, Barbara (Barbi!), and Aniko. I was the only US delegate not from Indy and even now it is hard to discern which of the Indy crew were delegates, guests, or speakers. But that is the way it should be because it just speaks to the open, close environment that was within the seminar from the first moment on. It was truly incredible to see how, as a group, we seamlessly worked with whoever was joining us for that program or day.

On Wednesday, I was pretty nervous to meet everyone. I knew that many of the delegates had already participated in the TriTeam program and that I was coming into the seminar halfway through. But I was welcomed with kind smiles and open arms which made transitioning into the group very easy. During the day we had programs that addressed the issue of fundraising, how to include the components of the Partnership in our programming, as well as experiences at Hooverwood, the only Jewish nursing home in Indianapolis that is located on the JCC’s campus. The programming was very educational for me and I think that it exposed how differently the three cultures viewed money and fundraising. We talked about different approaches, how to establish that initial reason/connection to give money, as well as gave many resources for further information. The Jewish programming event was interesting because it is a subject that we continually battle with in the community; how do we make sure that all of our events contain Jewish components but keep them fresh/non-intimidating?

In the evening, Idan and Hillal had an incredible opportunity to go to the Pacer’s playoff game so we shifted our plans to accommodate that. The group met an elderly woman, Susan, who was from Hungary and loved speaking with the girls in Hungarian, at a pizza place close to a mall for dinner. A short stint shopping at the mall and then we headed over to a bowling alley which was an absolute blast! I had never seen a bowling alley like this; who knew a DJ and full bar with servers was a thing now? This was an invaluable experience for me, as this was really my first time to get to know the rest of the delegates in a less formal, structured format. And I managed to keep all my teeth, too!

Thursday was a pretty intense day of programming. We had a conversation about the difference between philanthropy and charity in the morning that we tied back into the fundraising conversation from the day before. After a short break and a last-minute run to Graeter’s (we had to celebrate Hungary’s National Ice Cream Day!) we entered into a program about Israel advocacy and the information we need to face the arguments of the anti-Israel movement. While this is a very important issue that we should without a doubt be discussing and preparing for, I did not think that this particular program took the right approach to it; talking about ‘winning’ the argument’ where they really should be talking about ‘participating in dialogue’, behaving like everyone interprets information the same way so the only logical explanation for someone disagreeing with you is that they are uninformed, and failing to recognize that Israel is not perfect (no country in the world is) and sharing facts and topics from both sides of the discussion. The presenters, while knowledgeable, did not have the proper understanding for our group dynamic and were unprepared to leave their pre-planned steps to accommodate our unique program. I also felt that the conversation had been built to target college campus’ in the United States and no one in our group fell into this demographic. We needed active conversation tools about anti-Semitism, not educational facts on anti-Israel. The end of the presentation was much better because we finally got to a bit of role playing over hot-topic conversations but since we had to wade through so much on the front-side this exercise felt rushed. All in all I think it was a very valuable program both for the information it provided and the perspective many of us took away from it for future programming.

That evening was the exact opposite of the day. We separated men and women for the night so all the guys met up with several Jewish leaders from the Indy community at a Mexican restaurant that was hidden in the back of a Latino grocery store. It was a very cool experience and was the closest thing to authentic Mexican food you will get here in the MidWest. Then all of us went back to a home for bourbon and cigars. The night honestly could not have been better. While relaxing and casual, we did cover multiple important topics about education, Israel, the anti-Semitic situation in Budapest, and many others.

Friday was another great day where our programming was much less intense. Our plans got jumbled around a bit that morning due to one of the Hungarians feeling sick (flashbacks to Cinci-Sao Paulo interchange were unavoidable) but soon enough we were off to downtown Indy to explore the ‘circle’ area around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. We were a bit crunched on time so we explored the market, got our nerd on in a comic book store, ran up to the top of the monument, and then dashed into Rocket Fizz for our candy fix all before jumping back into the car to head to the Children’s Museum.

At the Museum we ate a quick lunch and then had a small tour that culminated in the Museum’s exhibit on three influential children, one of which was Anne Frank. We left the museum to let our international friends have a traditional ‘American’ experience; Costco. Barbi and Petra were not impressed so I took them exploring around the shopping center and we ended up in a McCalister’s where I gave them their first sweet tea experience. They even got a free sweet tea from the cashier. I need to go more places with beautiful Hungarian women more often.

Friday night we went to services at one of the Reform temples in Indy before heading to Michelle’s house for a wonderful Shabbat dinner. This part of the seminar was very meaningful to me because, as a not particularly religious Jew, it was cool to be back in a temple saying the prayers I learned when I became Bar Mitzvah. I was actually really surprised that I remembered everything that I did. The dinner was incredible because it was all of the individuals (and some new ones) who had been in and out of our programs for the past week all gathered in one room. Kids were running around, laughter filled the kitchen and dining room, and the energy in the room was just electric. Here was a group of people from all over the world and different walks of life being brought together by Partnership. Seeing one of the goals of Partnership laid out so obviously in front of me was very heartwarming. It inspired me to believe that we were not just spinning out wheels in the dirt but that, whether we  realize it or not, the Jewish communities around the world are being strengthened by our actions.

Saturday was a long day for many reasons. Not only would it be our last full day together, but we headed out to Camp Guci to truly get down to the goal of this entire seminar; planning what is next. After a nice ceremony outdoors in the morning, we had a brief exercise on allocation that was once again tied back to the fundraising conversation from earlier in the week. It was a very good exercise but once again too rushed for it to really hit home. This was by far the most eye raising program for me so far, as neither of the two groups got anywhere near the reality of the situation.

We then broke out into three different groups to discuss the broad questions of, “What’s next?” My group bounced around several ideas dealing with new programs, suggestions for improvement of existing programs, as well as actions for the future that were not program specific. We landed on a Budapest seminar for which that community would be the primary and sole focus of, not an aside to a trip to Israel. We by no way were discrediting the value of going to Israel and Israel’s role in all of our Jewish lives but believed that if Budapest is going to become a true partner in the Partnership then they need to be treated accordingly. And I couldn’t be more excited about the idea.

The groups got back together and we bounced our ideas back and forth against one another for hours. A country-specific seminar to gear up for the Budapest program was my baby for this discussion. Ideas on recruitment, incorporating lessons from programs back into our communities, and even some light logistics of how programs would work were all discussed. We really ran the gambit that afternoon. We eventually called it what it was and were all very happy with the idea generation we had accomplished. A vow to follow through on our ideas was made and then we had some free time before dinner. I got a quick run in but was quickly disheveled by detours surrounding the camp and a loose gravel trail that left my Achilles burning.

That night we celebrated each other and everything that we had shared the past week. We gathered around the fire and shared what it was we were taking away from this experience. Tears were soon in the eyes of many of us, including yours truly, and I think it was a realization for all of us the role we were stepping into not just in Partnership2Gether or our own Jewish communities but the global Jewish experience. We are now leaders in the Jewish movement and have taken on our shoulders some of the weight of moving our people, culture, and beliefs forward. We always use the term ‘Old Guard’ when we talk about traditional beliefs that could be holding back our connection with the modern world and its inhabitants and sitting down around that fire it was plain to see that we are the ‘New Guard,’ who are responsible for taking all that it is to be Jewish and amplifying it in a modern context.

Challenge accepted.

2014 Louisville To-Do List

In the spirit of finding out the best things to do in Louisville and this whole bucket list kick, I have compiled a Louisville To-Do list for 2014. I don’t know how much longer I have in Derby City so want to make the absolute most of it while I can. Because even after almost 5 years of living here there is A LOT that I have yet to do.

There are few places that are as eclectic, weird, and random as Louisville. Where else can you find a world-class park system (which includes multiple Fredrick Olmsted parks as well as the largest municipal urban forest in the United States) right next to a world-renowned sport venue that is right down the road from where 95% of the world’s bourbon is made? That’s right, NOWHERE. So while it may not be galavanting across the globe with nothing but a backpack, my time in Louisville is very important to me and this list has given me a great ideas to make the most of it!

I have included all sorts of museums, events, concerts, restaurants, and landmarks across Louisville. Some of them I have done before, some of them I have not. Either way, my goal is to get through as much of this list as possible so I can say that I have truly experienced The Ville. I will post applications for Louisville exploration buddies here shortly. Just kidding, you are all more then welcome to join me!

2014 Louisville To-Do List

  1. Game or Concert at the KFC Yum! Center (John Mayer!)
  2. Louisville football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium
  3. Take someone to 4th Street Live! for the first time
    1. Claimed by Christy Adams over the summer… but don’t worry I am sure she will share
  4. Waterfront Wednesday
  5. Bats game at Louisville Slugger field
  6. The Thirsty Pedaler
  7. Forecastle Festival
  8. Light Up Louisville
  9. Muhammad Ali Center (January 19; sub/chaperone for Hebrew High School field trip)
  10. Louisville Slugger Museum
  11. Frazier History Museum
  12. Ohio River Walking Bridge
  13. UofL Planetarium
  14. Abbey Road on the River
  15. Dinner and Tour on the Belle of Louisville
  16. Explore the Falls of the Ohio
    1. George Rogers Clark Home
  17. Hot Brown @ the Brown Hotel
  18. Explore Old Louisville
  19. St. James Art Show
  20. Louisville Science Museum
  21. Eat a fried Oreo and see a concert at the Kentucky State Fair
  22. See a play at Actors Theatre Louisville
  23. Ride the Louisville Loop
  24. Bourbon Trail
    1. Evan William’s Experience, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve, Town Branch
  25. Louisville Zoo
  26. Brew at the Zoo
  27. Mega Cavern Zipline
  28. Go see stand up at Comedy Caravan
  29. Fat Friday Trolley Hop
  30. Valhalla Golf and Country Club
  31. People watch on Bardstown
  32. Cherokee Park
    1. Hogan’s Fountain
  33. Iroquois Park
  34. Visit Colonel Sanders’ Grave
  35. Siltstone Trail in Jefferson Memorial Forest
  36. Complete the Louisville Triple Crown of Running
  37. Kentucky Derby Museum
  38. Go to a race at Churchill Downs
  39. Oaks
  40. Finally attend the Kentucky Derby
  41. Downs after Dark
  42. Kentucky Derby Festival
  43. Thunder over Louisville
  44. Get a funnel cake and frozen lemonade at the Chow Wagon
  45.  Restaurants
    1. Feast BBQ
    2. Louisville Originals
    3. Captains Quarters
    4. El Camino
    5. The Holy Grale (January 29, 2014)
    6. Gralehaus
  46. Urban Bourbon Trail
    1. Ramsi’s
    2. Equus and Jack’s Lounge (January 2014)
  47. World Fest
  48. Zombie Walk
  49. Bambi Walk

WATERisLIFE Derby Marathon Fundraiser

I have made a training fundraiser!

http://www.crowdrise.com/waterislifederbymarathon/fundraiser/benjaminrubenstein

After spending the last few weeks looking around various online fundraising sites and just gathering what information I could about all the different possibilities, I chose to make my fundraiser for WATERisLIFE on crowdrise.com I am extremely excited about creating this as it is for an incredible cause and is already serving as a training motivator.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with WATERisLIFE, they are a charity organization that provide short and long term solutions to drinking water shortages in developing countries. I myself was pretty unaware of them until a friend of mine showed me this video of theirs that really hit home with me.

There is also this video, which I found after doing more research on WATERisLIFE, about a young boy from Kenya.

As someone who gets to drink and use water without a second thought to its cleanliness or where it comes from, I was immediately impacted by the message WATERisLIFE was sending. Not just about clean water but about the perspective we carry through our lives on a daily basis about everything from what restaurant we should go to eat at to why our cable bill is so expensive. Just like this message, WATERisLIFE provides a wide array of products and programs to solve the clean water crisis millions of people face everyday. Their services range everywhere from proving personal water filtration devices, known as the Straw, to installing clean water wells, to education and training courses of sanitary/healthy practices. They run the complete gambit of needs and have a high level of transparency that gives me confidence that the funds you help me to raise will go where they truly need to go. For those who want more information about WATERisLIFE, you can go to their website here.

Originally I wanted to create a per mile pledge fundraiser where my supporters could donate a certain amount for every mile of training I did. While I still think that this is a really awesome idea that would make me super motivated to train, I was unfortunately not able to find any website that would support that format. But have no fear! Even though all the donations will come in the form of lump sums (and I recognize that some people would donate like that anyways) please feel free to donate based on that per mile idea. My training has me running just over 500 miles over the 22 weeks (I am currently at 35 halfway through week 4, but things will ramp up quickly come January). I listed my fundraising goal at $2,500 which is $5/mile. That way, for every two miles that I run I will have raised enough money to purchase one of WATERisLIFE’s Straw systems that will provide clean drinking water for an individual for a year. If I reach my goal, I will be able to do that for 250 people!

Any donation small or large is an incredible help. Not only will you be helping me to train but you will be providing clean drinking water (something that I know I definitely take for granted everyday) for someone who needs it desperately. For those of you who cannot donate right now, I ask that you try to keep some of the perspective shown in the above videos in your day to day life and for your continued support as I train for the 2014 Derby Festival Marathon. I will update my per mile number and total donations through the crowdrise website and this blog periodically, probably with my bi-weekly training updates.

Thank you all so much in advance for your support and donations. You truly are incredible people.

All my love.

PS. SHARE WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

 

The Week of Rest

The past 8 days have been absolutely thrilling. I took off the week (and a few days) after the half marathon to do all of the things that training and big kid jobs make a little more difficult than I would like.

On Tuesday, November 12, I ventured down to Nashville, TN to see a dear friend. I initially was going down there for a concert (Hoodie Allen, for those of you who were wondering) but it had been so long since we had seen each other and I was so caught up in hearing all about the last 4 1/2 years that we didn’t even go. And I am remarkably okay with that. It might actually be a good thing we didn’t go, as I was feeling a wee bit sore from the race two days previous and I don’t know how standing and dancing for a concert would have gone. We had a great dinner and some even better drinks at the Whiskey Kitchen, a bar off of 12th Avenue South. The area was a foodie’s heaven and I will definitely be making it back there to try out some of the incredible looking restaurants. And while I was exhausted afterwards, the trip was completely worth it.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I took the opportunity to literally do nothing at all. I did gorge myself on some Bdubs during Thursday night football, which was pretty amazing.

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On Friday, I did anything but rest. In fact for the next 72 hours I would be in a constant state of ‘doing.’ A close friend of mine, Jillian, who I traveled through Israel with earlier this year on my Taglit Birthright trip, was in Louisville for the weekend from Boston. Since the rest of my weekend would be taking me out of the city, I promised her that I would take her out and show her a good time out on the town Friday night. We had dinner at Mark’s Feedstore while we caught up on what we had each been doing since we got back from Israel and then we went down to 4th street Live. It was a completely different bar experience for Jillian and we took complete advantage of that fact; bouncing between a few happy hours and having a wildly good time. There was a big group of people who I knew down there so it was really incredible to see them all bring Jillian in and help me show her the better side of 4th. Thank you all for that!! Once the happy hours were over (and since all Louisville-ians are spoiled by the cheap drinks during them) we left 4th and headed for Bardstown road. And where else is there to go on a Friday night on Bardstown Road than Baxter’s. The hours fell away as we danced, talked, and played pool. We had lost a significant amount of the group in the transition from 4th to Baxter’s (read; everyone except Mike) but it was still a great time.

Saturday was an early morning but what morning isn’t early when you close down the bars (fun fact, Louisville bars close at 4am) the night before. By 11, I was on my way to Nashville for the second time that week for the Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators game with Jim, Colleen, and Jim’s friends from Chicago; Dan, Lauren, and Neil. We had checked into our hotel three hours later and it was time for the festivities to begin. After a run to the gas station for beer became extremely weird due to a very creepy man blatantly hitting on Colleen, we made it back and hung out for an hour or so before taking a cab into the city.

Getting out of the cab was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. Not only is Broadway just an awesome street in and of itself but there were Blackhawks fans EVERYWHERE. There were so many Hawks fans that they outnumbered everyone else at least 8 to 1. The bars and streets were packed to the brim but we managed to snag a table and spent the next couple of hours living it up in downtown Nashville. It was crazy to see all of the Blackhawks fans walking around in headdresses and wigs but I think my favorite was a guy who literally had cut a hole in a blanket and put it over his shoulders.

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We went into the arena with about an hour to spare, managed to get our hands on a few all you can drink/eat wristbands, and sat down for what was expected to be a blowout Blackhawks win. Even though we couldn’t have been more wrong about the result of the game it was still a great time.

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After the first period I braved lower-bowl security (or lack thereof) to sit eight or so rows off the ice in a row that was completely empty. The other six joined shortly after (we lost one in the transition from our seats to the lower bowl, but we eventually found him) and we spent all of the second period in these glorious seats. A few cliche pictures on the boards were taken before some kids who hadnt even been into the game yet came and kicked us out of the seats. We weren’t even back in our seats for half of the third period before the Preds went up 6-1 and we decided our time would be better spent getting a good spot at a bar than watching our team get humiliated.

We ended up at a karaoke bar and spent most of the night singing and drinking our team’s loss away. It was nothing short of a blast. It was probably one of the most carefree nights out I have had in a very long time. I lent my exquisite vocal talent to Wagon Wheel at one point, but for the most part just enjoyed everyone else making fools of themselves. I even met a nice lady named Catherine, who I immediately started calling Cat, and by the end of the night was simply called Meow. So there’s that. We bar hopped for awhile after that before most of the group headed back. I stayed on with Tiffany and Jaime, who driven separately and met us at the hotel, to enjoy the scene a little while longer. Turned out to be a great idea, as I ran into two friends from back home in Cincinnati, Darek and Zach, and was able to catch up with them which was nice.

After the typical taxi life-talk with our Libyan cabby, a wonderful helping of McDonald’s chicken nuggets, and a second life-talk with Kia the night hostess, I woke Jim up to let me into the room (damn deactivated key) so I could pass out. After one of us didn’t make it to the hotel breakfast with socks, a confusion over whose jeans were whose, and lots of water we hit the road back to Louisville. Halfway through everyone was feeling much more lively but we were then in a bit of a time crunch to get back due to the weather that this part of the country experienced on Sunday. We stayed out of the worst of it (Louisville was actually spared from what area further North experienced) but the Chicago-ans stayed for dinner to wait it out. Sleep that night came easy.

Monday I was a bit sluggish than I am used to. Where I had been putting workouts in I had placed drinking and late nights. I was almost upset at myself for being more tired at the end of my ‘rest’ week than I had been at the start, but then I remembered how much fun I had and that feeling quickly dispersed. The last thing I did with my rest week was grab lunch with Jillian before she headed out to Cali for her job training and get a wonderful massage Monday evening. While I am very glad that I did it and it felt amazing, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that massages that are borderline painful are actually the ones that do your body the most good. But that’s neither here nor there.

More updates coming soon! Holidays, MishpuChanukah, training, and a brand new Book Review section shall be coming your way shortly!

All my love.

Louisville Sport Commission Half Marathon

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I have defeated November 10.

I started my training for the LSC Half Marathon on August 12, 2013. I was following the schedule that the LSC had published and was determined to stick to it.

As many of you know, this wasn’t going to be my first half marathon. I had successfully completed the 2013 Derby Festival half marathon in the spring and had just missed my goal of finishing in under 2 hours, 30 minutes. I can make all the excuses I want for doing a half-assed training in the spring but at the end of the day I didn’t make my performance a priority and disappointed myself. And I wasn’t going to let that happen again.

It was this disappointment and a need to have something that I had complete control over that made me become so dedicated to the training this fall. I had seen a lot of changes in the months prior… graduating, the end of a relationship, starting at Strategic… and needed something that was completely determined by my own actions. Not to mention I realized that my burn-out from Australia had resulted in me being in one of the worst shapes of my life, tipping the scale at 218 pounds and much weaker than I had been in a long time on the first week of my training.

So I ran.

The schedule started out easy enough but damn it made me realize just how bad of shape I was in. I took full advantage of the gym at work to kick start myself and actually found that doing treadmill work helped me not stop and get my cadence under control. Once my distances became too long to do at work or on the treadmill I suffered through that transition which was hell on my knees and shins. But slowly but surely, I gained back a solid base and a lot more confidence to move forward with the training.

For the first time in my life, I kept a detailed log of my workouts over the 14 weeks that tracked everything from distance and time to how much sleep I had. I will never not keep a workout log again. It is incredible to flip back through the pages and see where I started and ended. Going from 7.5 miles in a week to 13.1 in one day and the ups and downs that got me there is really motivating. The log also helped me to keep track of what was and wasn’t working as far as time of day, fuel, and difficulty of certain routes.

November 10 was a great day. I was confident in myself and my ability to stay at the 9 minute mile pace that would allow me to finish at or under 2 hours. It was a gorgeous day here in Louisville, too. A tad windy at times but the sun was out and life was good. I started much faster than I intended, letting the adrenaline and satisfaction of passing people get to my head, but that came to a quick end when I hit the rolling hills of Cherokee Park and Cave Hill Cemetery. My IT bands were on fire when I ran out onto Baxter and started the run back downtown. It was around this time that I also began to feel some fatigue in my hamstrings. This gave me a pretty scare because in the last mile of the Derby half my quads had pretty much given out on me and my race would’ve been shot had my hamstrings done so that day. Here’s to you, hammies, for sticking in there. I also found myself racing against the other runners which was really messing with my pace and rhythm. Once I was able to focus on running against my goal and the clock I started to run more smoothly and actually increased my pace by a bit. The last 1.1 miles were a straight shot up main and it was the longest mile of my life. I stuck to my tradition of sprinting the last half mile (the operative term being sprinting, here) and wasn’t even paying attention to the numbers on the clock when I crossed the finish line.

1 hour, 52 minutes, 56 seconds. My watch had suspiciously added 7 seconds to my time, but both had me in absolute shock. I knew that running the half at a 9 minute pace and cutting 30 minutes off of my time from the spring was ambitious and I didn’t think that I had been running that well that day so when I saw my time I was on Cloud 9. An 8:37 pace and 40 minutes cut off from the spring was beyond my wildest expectations and it felt so good to have the past 14 weeks pay off. I placed 435th out of 1,947 participants and 26th out of 43 runners in my division, Men’s 20-24, too!

Even with how excited I am about my finishing time, it isn’t anywhere close to the most important part of the past 14 weeks. When I started training I was not in the best place; I was unhappy with the shape I was in, restless, and much too focused on things that were in the past and I had no control over. But when I crossed that finish line none of that was there. Running had helped me to direct my frustrations to a positive goal, think and come to terms with “what ifs” that I was wrestling with, melt almost 20 pounds off, and gain back the sense of control and confidence that I was fumbling with in August. And that is worth more than any combination of numbers on a stop watch.

So, for all of you who think that its too late or too cold or you’re ‘too far gone’ to start running, I am here to tell you that all of that is bologna. Whether it is a half marathon or a 5k isn’t what is important, starting something that I will guarantee you will love and thank yourself for later is what matters. Give it time and stick with it and let me know how everything goes!

My bed springs would creak if I had them.

Well shit, when did it become October?

Not that I am necessarily disappointed by the arrival of Fall and (what is supposed to be) cooler weather, but time seems to be passing at a breakneck pace. Weird then, that I am so eager to look ahead on the calendar to find the next big thing.

September was one of those months that you just kind of have to get through. One of those months where you just look for a moment that will take you away from it all, that you don’t want to let go of. Not to say that it was a particularly boring or uneventful month, just one that I never got too excited about. You know the feeling?

It started off great with a high school buddy of mine, Jamill, getting married to his beautiful then-fiance Brittany. The old group of guys who I had met lifeguarding at Coco Key were all down which was great because I hadn’t seen them since I had moved to Louisville. It was a wonderful evening and definitely one that I will always remember. I ended up going back to The Galt House afterwards to catch up with them all some more and it was oddly reminiscent of standing out on The Forum balcony over six years ago. It was the third and final wedding for me this year. While all of them were a blast and I couldn’t be happier for Joe/Ari, Luke/Katie, and Jamill/Brittany there was a small part of me that was glad the wedding season had come to an end.

The rest of the month was filled with work and training, which makes me thankful the month passed quickly. On the work side of things, we had a sales retreat to French Lick that was actually quite enjoyable. I had been feeling a bit out of touch with the rest of the team (being the youngest person in the entire company puts me at a slightly different point in life and interests) so it was really awesome to be in a more casual setting where I could get to know people better. There is a monster hill by the casino that I used to train while we were there and it kicked.my.ass. My calves and quads burned for days.

Training has been going really well, actually. Still dinged and sore but really well. I have started training in Cherokee Parks which is a part of the course for the half marathon in hopes that will make it easier come November 10, too. Today was the end of the eighth of fourteen weeks of training. Kind of hard to believe that I am running in one day what I used to struggle to run in a week, but it is nice to see the improvement.

Outside of the weddings, work, and training I have begun to feel restless beyond measure. With Sara living in Istanbul, Amy studying abroad in Ireland, and my parents doing everything they can to enjoy their empty nest (which they have every single right to do, all of them) I can’t help but turn green as I go through my day to day. To combat this the best I can I have adopted the same mentality that I had to when I was a poor international student in Australia and couldn’t travel; explore my city. What I initially thought was going to be a torturous final month in Melbourne turned into some of the best weeks I had their exploring the parks, museums, and culture of a city I was still a stranger in after 5 months of living there. So lets tango, Louisville! It’ll be a shame to not get to know each other when you’re right next door.

So I started with Nulu Fest, a celebration of the rebirth of a neighborhood on the Eastside of downtown, and quickly followed that up with a trip to the Irish Festival at Bellarmine’s campus (which I had actually never been to before). Both were very interesting. Nulu was pretty barebones but there was an excellent selection of beer there and the Irish Fest was quite nice with great music and, once again, an excellent selection of beer.

I also had my first experience as a substitute teacher for the Hebrew high school thats run by the JCC here. It was, interesting. The classes that I subbed for were both 9th grade classes and wasn’t quite what I was prepared for. Little shits. It was definitely a jolt of reality and a reminder that I am not always the most patient of people. I am so sorry, Mom and Dad. If only I had known. Regardless I did what I could to get through the plan that each teacher had left me and left feeling pretty satisfied with myself. I had been contemplating putting my name into the sub pool for awhile and while the first round was a little rough I am glad that I did it. I actually go back tomorrow to teach a different class (still 9th graders though, ugh) so hopefully that will be smoother.

Another thing that I have done that I have instantly fallen in love with all over again is reading. Over the past few weeks I have read “Lets Explore Diabetes with Owls” by David Sedaris, “World War Z” by Max Brooks, ” “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver, and “In the Sea there are Crocodiles” by Fabio Geda. All of which are very different but very good reads. If you have the opportunity to read through any of them, do so. Particularly “The Poisonwood Bible” or anything else by Kingsolver. She has quickly become one of my favorite writers. Book reviews to come.

 

As for October, things are shaping up nicely. I continued my exploration of Louisville with the St. James Art Fair this weekend, which is apparently this nationally renowned event that I never even knew existed. I’ve been slacking on Louisville apparently.

St. James was actually REALLY cool and the artists (there were over 700 of them) all had some incredible pieces out. Unfortunately, the weather was positively dreadful; rain, humidity, and heat. It was like a jungle where you either looked up to dodge the various size, shape, and colors of umbrellas that were constantly trying to poke your eye out and stepped on a little kid who absolutely did not want to be there OR you could avoid the kid and be a one eyed pirate for the rest of your life. Keep in mind I hear that the world is already overpopulated and it is incredibly hard to look at art with one eye. Comment with what you would do below.

Up on cue this month I have a sales trip to Chicago (oh to fly again!), a 10 kilometer and quarter marathon race to compliment the training, and a Matt Nathanson/ Joshua Radin concert with a group of friends here at Headliners.

So here’s to October and finding those moments that you don’t want to let go of,

All my love.

 

 

Also, HUGE bonus points if anyone gets the title.